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Cardinals take third straight from Pirates

2014-07-09T22:45:00Z 2014-07-23T20:15:39Z Cardinals take third straight from PiratesBy Joe Trezza jtrezza@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8274 stltoday.com

For the first time all week enough runs came before the bottom of the ninth, as the Cardinals rode their bats and the right arm of Lance Lynn to a third straight win over the Pirates, pulling within two of first-place Milwaukee in the process.

The much-maligned offense, retooled by manager Mike Matheny before the game, pounded 13 hits. It received contributions from just about every angle, except struggling right fielder Allen Craig, who Matheny slotted seventh for the first time all season. 

Craig went 0-for-4.

Every other position player who batted got at least one hit, and the top four batters each collected two.

Matt Adams put the Cardinals on the board with a 2-run double in the first inning, spotting Lance Lynn an early lead he would never give up. Jhonny Peralta and Matt Holliday RBI hits added runs in the third and fourth, and Kolten Wong homered for the third time in four days in the seventh.

The second baseman won Tuesday’s game with a walk-off homer and also homered Sunday, in his first game back from the disabled list. The sprained shoulder that landed him there appears fine. The sprain constricted Wong’s swing, and there’s been nothing constricted about his hitting lately.

Wong’s homer came off lefty reliever Justin Wilson, who allowed Matt Adams’ walk-off blast Monday.

Lynn allowed two earned in 6.2 innings for his tenth win and became the first Cardinals pitcher since Bob Gibson (1968-70) to win 10 games before the All-Star break in three consecutive seasons.

Lynn has now allowed two runs of fewer in 13 of his 19 starts. The righty struck out four and walked two, allowing four hits. He allowed runners to reach first and second with nobody out in the seventh, but Matheny let him face pinch-hitter Matt Hague. Lynn got Hauge to bounce into a double play.

He exited with a runner on third and two out, with the batter Gregory Polanco representing the tying run.

For the second straight night, Randy Choate retired the young outfielder. He struck him out Tuesday and forced a ground out Wednesday.

Oscar Taveras, back in centerfield and the No.2 spot in the lineup, enjoyed his second consecutive two-hit game. Matt Carpenter collected two singles and scored a run. Holliday finished 2-for-3 with two walks.

Even Tony Cruz (1-for-3) and Peter Bourjos (pinch hit triple) got in on the action.

Cruz replaced Yadier Molina, who sprained his thumb sliding into third base in the second.

Molina got up slowly after taking advantage of a lackadaisical Pedro Alvarez play, advancing from second on a ground ball to third.

He was examined briefly by a trainer and stayed in the game to run. Molina caught the next inning before being replaced by Cruz.

He slid into third feet first, but used his hands to brace himself and to stay on the base. Often runners are taught to slide with their hands up, as to avoid jams and cleats.

Molina will be re-evaluated Thursday morning, the Cardinals announced. 

Trevor Rosenthal earned his 27th save, working with a three-run lead in the ninth. The righty did walk another batter, though. He has now walked 26 men in 42 1/3 innings, compared to 20 in 75 1/3 innings last year, when he didn’t close until the last two weeks of the season.

Rosenthal allowed a shot to center off the bat of pinch hitter Russell Martin. But Peter Boujos leaped to make an acrobatic catch at the wall that ended the game. 

Cardinals lead 4-2 through six

Lance Lynn has held the Pirates to four hits and two runs over six innings, and the Cardinals have pounded 11 hits to take a 4-2 lead.

Worry about the offense has dissipated, at least for the time being, for worry about Yadier Molina, the All-Star catcher who left the game Wednesday in the third inning.

Molina suffered a sprained right thumb and will be reevaluated Thursday.  

As for Wednesday, what about that offense?

The top four players in the Cardinals lineup all have multiple hits, with Matt Adams and Matt Holliday combining to drive in three runs. For the second consectuve night, Oscar Taveras has collected two hits. 

Matt Carpenter, who stayed in the game after jamming his wrist on a dive at third base, has two hits and a run scored.

Carpenter and Holliday scored on Adams' two-run double in the first inning that gave the Cardinals an early lead. Holliday drove in a run himself with a single to center in the fourth.

In between Lynn allowed a solo home run to Neil Walker. Walker also scored again in the fourth on a Jordy Mercer infield single.

But besides that, Lynn has endured. He's needed 106 pitches to get through six innings, even though he's walked only two. 

Lynn has also helped himself out at the plate, which is about as rare as a black jersey in this crowd tonight. A .032 hitter coming into tonight, Lynn walked in the fourth. it took three consequent singles, but Lynn eventually came around to score. 

Molina removed with sprained thumb

Yadier Molina made a excellent play. No, not behind the plate.

He made an excellent play on the base paths.

But then Molina got up slowly.

He sprained his right thumb sliding into third base in the bottom of the second, when he advanced from second on a ground ball to third base. He was examined briefly by a trainer and stayed in the game to run. Molina caught the next inning before being replaced by Tony Cruz in the bottom of the third.

He will be re-evaluated Thursday morning, the Cardinals announced. 

He slid into third feet first, but used his hands to brace himself and to stay on the base. Often runners are taught to slide with their hands up, as to avoid jams and cleats.

Cruz pinch-hit for Molina with one out and runners on second and third. He grounded into a fielder's choice, as Matt Adams was gunned down trying to score from third.

With Cruz in the on-deck circle, Jhonny Peralta doubled home Matt Holliday to extend the Cardinals lead.

Lance Lynn allowed a run in the top of the fourth when Neil Walker doubled and scored on Jordy Mercer's infield single.

Mercer lined a one-hopper down the third base line. Matt Carpenter dove for the ball and gloved it, but jammed his left wrist on the ground and, as he finished his dive, got it caught behind his body. 

Carpenter was checked out by a trainer and manager Mike Matheny, and stayed in the game. But he didn't even attempt to throw Mercer out at first, and got up slowly, wiggling his wrist. 

Carpenter ranged to his left to glove a chopper off the bat of Chris Stewart to end the inning and keep the Cardinal lead at 3-2. 

Cardinals lead 2-1 in second

Taketh two, giveth one back.

The Cardinals jumped out to a two-run lead in the first inning on Matt Adams' double, and Lance Lynn started the second by allowing a homer to Neil Walker and the Cardinals lead 2-1.

Adams' 21st double of the year followed a Matt Carpenter single and Matt Holliday's walk. He now has 36 RBI. 

Walker's solo home run traveled 397 feet into the Cardinals' bullpen. His 12th of the season came on a 1-1 pitch. 

Lynn retired three of the next four batters to finish the top of the second.

Adams roped a line shot into the left center field gap, scoring Carpenter and Holliday and chasing Andrew McCutchen to the wall. McCutchen played the carom and unleashed an endzone throw, right on target to nail Adams sliding into third.

Adams is quicker than he looks and does have three triples this season. But he got a little greedy this time. He will settle for a double and two RBI. 

McCutchen's throw had to be perfect, and it was. It reached third baseman Pedro Alvarez on a line, his glove waiting just in front of the bag. McCutchen made his toss from beyond the top of the grass Arch cutout, just in front of the warning track.

Adams was immediately aghast at the "out" call, but the call was confirmed after manager Mike Matheny lost his challenge.

Adams is hitting .379 this month. 

Matheny is now 2-for-14 in challenges this season. 

Both of the first two games of this series have been decided by walk-off home runs. The Cardinals and Pirates continue to match up almost evenly over the past two years, with the Cardinals winning 18 of the 35 games between the clubs, and the Pirates 17. 

The two teams have spent 15 of the first 18 innings of this series knotted up, and are in the midst of another tight game.

Craig hits new low: No. 7 in order

Allen Craig is back in the Cardinals lineup for Wednesday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but for the first time all season he's in the bottom third of it.

Craig, who has seen his role reduced because of and is hitting just .105 since Oscar Taveras' promotion on July 1, is slotted seventh in manager Mike Matheny's lineup today.

Matheny hesitated before penciling Craig, one of his best run producers over the past two seasons, so low in the order. But ultimately, Craig's struggles have become too severe to ignore. 

"What do we gotta do to win tonight?" is the question Matheny asked himself. "That's what I keep coming back to."

In his mind that's inserting Oscar Taveras, who had two hits last night and scorched a line out in a pinch hitting appearence Monday, back in the No. 2 spot. In the outfield merry-go-round, today is Jon Jay's day to sit.

Matheny reserves more rope for Matt Holliday, whose struggles are even more exaggerated than Craig's based on his career. He is back in his usual No. 3 spot after doubling home two runs last night. But the left fielder still has a long way to go to make up for what has been a mainly punchless first half. 

A career .309 hitter, Holliday is hitting .260. 

Craig owns a .294 lifetime average and hit .315 last season. He's treading water at a .246 mark through 86 games.

"Guys are fighting," said Matheny, who sat Craig last night in favor of Taveras and Jay. "Things like sitting on the bench yesterday, hitting seventh today, those aren't things Allen Craig is accustomed to and they aren't things we want him to be accustomed to. But ideally what we'd like to see is us have about eight guys that fit in that No.2, three and four spots. But right now, we are what we are. I know Allen understands that."

Kelly back, will start Friday

Matheny and GM John Mozeliak said earlier this week they needed to get Joe Kelly back to St. Louis, look him over and get a feel for how his hamstring is holding up before committing definitely to him as Friday night's starter in Milwaukee.

Now Kelly is back in St. Louis. They've seen him and his fresh new haircut. And after missing almost three months with a hamstring strain, Kelly will start Friday.

"Physically I feel great," he said. "My leg, my body, everything feels good."

Kelly reclaims the spot in the rotation occupied for the last three go-arounds by Marco Gonzales, who was optioned to Class AAA Memphis earlier in the week. He will return against the Brewers in Milwaukee, where he first injured his hamstring on April 16. Before landing on the disabled list, Kelly was 1-1 with a 0.59 ERA in 15.1 innings.

He allowed three runs in 10.1 innings over three rehab starts at Memphis.

"It got better every time out," Kelly said. "The first start, I didn't even know where the ball was going. It was different being out there again. It felt similar to throwing my first bullpen right before spring training."

Kelly eventually got to 72 pitches Sunday during his last and final outing, a number he found strenuous. "It was tough," he said. "I was definitely giving everything I had."

The hamstring, though, feels good, "good enough for me to put it out of the back of my mind," he said.

Siegrist to start rehab at Springfield

As one arm enters, another departs.

Kevin Siegrist, who has been on the DL since May 24 with forearm tightness, threw a bullpen Wednesday and will report to Class AA Springfield for a rehab assignment.

Siegrist felt fine after throwing his second bullpen in three days, and didn't experience the shoulder tightness that delayed his comeback previously.

Matheny said the club will need to see if Siegrist is healthy enough to pitch multiple innings and to throw on back to back days before he rejoins the major league club.

Siegrist is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 23 games in his second big league season.   

Cardinals lineup:

Carpenter 3b

Taveras cf

Holliday lf

Adams 1b

Peralta ss

Molina c

Craig rf

Wong 2b

Lynn p

Pirates lineup:

Polanco rf

Harrison lf

McCutchen cf

Walker 2b

Alvarez 3b

Mercer ss

Davis 1b

Stewart c

Cumpton p

Joe Trezza is a sports intern at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at JoeTrezz" @JoeTrezz

Copyright 2015 stltoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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